Reichstag (Weimar Republic)
The Reichstag was the Lower house of the Weimar Republic's Legislature. It originated in the creation of the Weimar Constitution in 1919. After the end of the Weimar Republic in 1933, the Reichtag continued to operate, albeit sporadically, as the nominal Legislature of Nazi Germany. According to the 1919 Weimar Constitution, the members of the Reichstag were to be elected by general universal suffrage according to the principle of proportional representation. Votes were cast for nationwide party lists; the term of the legislature was four years, however dissolution was common. There was threshold for winning a seat in the Reichstag. In practice, a party could gain parliamentary representation 0.4 percent of the national vote 60,000 votes. While this provision was intended to reduce wasted votes, it resulted in a large number of parties being represented in the chamber. Combined with the nationwide party-list system, this made it difficult to form a stable government. Moreover, each political party wanted to pull Germany in a different direction and parties refused to compromise with, or recognize, other parties.
As scholar Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn wrote in 1943: Catholic Centrists wanted to create conditions in Germany which would make it easier for the individuals to save their souls. Whereas some looked at pocketbooks, others at the pigmentation of the skin or the index of the skull, fruitful discussions became impossible; when the speaker of one party indulged in his oratory, the others walked out. It was not worthwhile to listen to somebody's opinion when you knew that his premises were all wrong; the grim determination to silence the unconvincible enemy by execution or imprisonment existed prior to 1933 in many parties. The parliament passed legislation and the government budget, as well as making declarations of war and ratifying international treaties; the members of the German cabinet, or government, were responsible to the Reichstag, which could force the resignation of ministers or the whole cabinet by a motion of no confidence. It could revoke "emergency decrees" by the Reich President according to Article 48 of the constitution -—however, on the other hand the President was able to dissolve the Reichstag.
In contrast, the Reichsrat, the house of state representatives, had minor significance. The constitution provided for the possibility of referenda, but the hurdles to overcome were high. There were only two plebiscites; when a Chancellor was removed from office, his replacement was well short of a majority. This was pronounced in the 1930s when the president had to resort to Article 48 just to conduct the ordinary business of government. In the election of 1928, the Nazi Party won only 12 seats in the Reichstag, making it the smallest of the nine parties in the chamber. However, over the following two years it gained another 95. At the election of 1932, the Nazis and the Communist Party, both declared enemies of the parliamentary system, together held an absolute majority of the seats. In 1920–1923 and from 1930 onwards, the parliament was circumvented by two instruments not provided for by the constitution: the extensive use of powers granted to the President by the use of the Emergency Decree in Article 48 of the constitution, the use of enabling acts in 1919–1923, again the Enabling Act of 1933, after Hitler had been appointed Chancellor, which formed an important building block of his dictatorship.
With this latter enabling act, the Reichstag formally gave up its exclusive responsibility for the exercise of the legislative power. From on, the German parliament only functioned as a one-party-assembly and as a body which ratified the actions of the Nazi dictatorship by acclamation. In its purely ceremonial role, the Third Reich's Reichstag convened only twenty times, the last being on April 26, 1942. On January 25, 1943, five days before the expiration of the last Reichstag's term of office, the summoning of a new body was postponed for another electoral term, until January 30, 1947, by a decree of the Führer; when in 1948–1949 the West German politicians established a new democracy, they used the word Bund in place of Reich. With memories of how the Nazis had exploited the weaknesses of the Reichstag still fresh, the founders of the new state built in several safeguards to prevent a repeat occurrence; the new parliament became the Bundestag, elected by mixed-member proportional representation—a mix of members elected from individual constituencies and state party lists.
From 1949, to qualify for seats by proportional representation, a party must either win at least five percent of the national vote or else win three directly elected seats. The Chancellor must be elected by an absolute majority in the Bundestag, could only be removed from office if a prospective successor was assured of a majority. Besides the Bundestag, the Bundesrat has a decisive vote on legislation where the states' interests are concerned. After the German unification of 1870, the new Reichstag first met in the houses of the Prussian Landtag in Berlin. In 1871 it decided to have a new building constructed, in the meantime had its base in a former porcelain factory at number 4, Leipziger Straße; some 23 years the Reichstag's new building was finished, it
Reichstag Fire Decree
The Reichstag Fire Decree is the common name of the Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State issued by German President Paul von Hindenburg on the advice of Chancellor Adolf Hitler on 28 February 1933 in immediate response to the Reichstag fire. The decree nullified many of the key civil liberties of German citizens. With Nazis in powerful positions in the German government, the decree was used as the legal basis for the imprisonment of anyone considered to be opponents of the Nazis, to suppress publications not considered "friendly" to the Nazi cause; the decree is considered by historians as one of the key steps in the establishment of a one-party Nazi state in Germany. Hitler had been appointed Chancellor of Germany only four weeks on 30 January 1933, when he was invited by President von Hindenburg to lead a coalition government. Hitler’s government had urged von Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag and to call elections for 5 March. On the evening of 27 February 1933 — six days before the parliamentary election — fire broke out in the Reichstag chambers.
While the exact circumstances of the fire remain unclear to this day, what is clear is that Hitler and his supporters capitalized on the fire as a means by which to speed their consolidation of power. Hitler immediately blamed the Communist Party of Germany for causing the blaze, believed the fire would result in more Germans supporting the Nazis. According to Rudolf Diels, Hitler was heard shouting through the fire "these sub-humans do not understand how the people stand at our side. In their mouse-holes, out of which they now want to come, of course they hear nothing of the cheering of the masses."Seizing on the burning of the Reichstag building as the supposed opening salvo in a communist uprising, the Nazis were able to throw millions of Germans into a convulsion of fear at the threat of Communist terror. The official account stated: The burning of the Reichstag was intended to be the signal for a bloody uprising and civil war. Large-scale pillaging in Berlin was planned for as early as four o’clock in the morning on Tuesday.
It has been determined that starting today throughout Germany acts of terrorism were to begin against prominent individuals, against private property, against the lives and safety of the peaceful population, general civil war was to be unleashed… Within hours of the fire, dozens of Communists had been thrown into jail. The next day, officials in the Prussian Ministry of the Interior, led by Hermann Göring, discussed ways to provide legal cover for the arrests. Ludwig Grauert, the chief of the Prussian state police, proposed an emergency presidential decree under Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which gave the president the power to take any measure necessary to protect public safety without the consent of the Reichstag, it would have suspended most civil liberties under the pretence of preventing further Communist violence. There had been discussions within the Cabinet about enacting such measures. Justice Minister Franz Gürtner, a member of the Nazis' coalition partner, the German National People's Party, had brought a draft decree before the cabinet on the afternoon of 27 February.
When the proposed decree was brought before the Reich Cabinet, Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, the only Nazi in the cabinet who had a portfolio, added a clause that would allow the cabinet to take over the state governments if they failed to maintain order. Notably, the cabinet would have been allowed to do this on its own authority. Frick was well aware that the Interior portfolio had been given to the Nazis because it was powerless, he saw a chance to extend his power over the states and thus begin the process of Nazifying the country. At an emergency cabinet meeting, Hitler declared that the fire now made it a matter of "ruthless confrontation of the KPD"--a confrontation that could not be "made dependent on judicial considerations." Though Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen objected to the clause giving the Reich cabinet the power to take over the state governments if necessary, the decree was approved. Shortly thereafter, President von Hindenburg signed the decree into law; the decree consisted of six articles.
Article 1 indefinitely suspended most of the civil liberties set forth in the Weimar Constitution, including habeas corpus, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, the right of free association and public assembly, the secrecy of the post and telephone, as well as the protection of property and the home. Articles 2 and 3 allowed the Reich government to assume powers reserved for the federal states. Articles 4 and 5 established draconian penalties for certain offenses, including the death penalty for arson to public buildings. Article 6 stated that the decree took effect on the day of its proclamation; the preamble and Article 1 of the Reichstag Fire Decree show the methods by which the rights protections of the Weimar Republic’s constitution were abolished by the Government: The decree was not accompanied by any written guidelines from the Reich government. The Länder not yet in the Nazis’ grasp restricted themselves to banning the Communist press, Communist meetings and demonstrations, detaining leading KPD officials.
In Prussia, summary arrests of KPD leaders were common, thousands were imprisoned in the days following the fire, the total number of arrests in Prussia on the basis of
The Bundestag is the German federal parliament. It can be compared to the chamber of deputies along the lines of the United States House of Representatives or the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Through the Bundesrat, a separate institution, the individual states of Germany participate in legislation similar to a second house in a bicameral parliament; the Bundestag was established by article III of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949 as one of the legislative bodies of Germany and thus the historical successor to the earlier Reichstag. Since 1999 it has met in the Reichstag Building in Berlin. Wolfgang Schäuble is the current President of the Bundestag. Members of the Bundestag are elected every four years by all adult German citizens in a mixed system of constituency voting and list voting; the constitutional minimum number of seats is 598. The Election Day can be called earlier than four years after the last if the Federal Chancellor loses a vote of confidence and asks the Federal President to dissolve the Bundestag in order to hold new general elections.
In the 19th century, the name Bundestag was the unofficial designation for the assembly of the sovereigns and mayors of the Monarchies and Free Cities which formed the German Confederation. Its seat was in the Free City of Frankfurt on the Main. With the dissolution of the German Confederation in 1866 and the founding of the German Empire in 1871, the Reichstag was established as the German parliament in Berlin, the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia. Two decades the current parliament building was erected; the Reichstag delegates were elected by equal male suffrage. The Reichstag did not participate in the appointment of the Chancellor until the parliamentary reforms of October 1918. After the Revolution of November 1918 and the establishment of the Weimar Constitution, women were given the right to vote for the Reichstag, the parliament could use the no-confidence vote to force the chancellor or any cabinet member to resign. In March 1933, one month after the Reichstag fire, the President of the Weimar Republic, Paul von Hindenburg, a retired war hero, gave Adolf Hitler ultimate power through the Decree for the Protection of People and State and the Enabling Act of 1933, although Hitler remained at the post of Federal Government Chancellor.
After this, the Reichstag met only usually at the Krolloper to unanimously rubber-stamp the decisions of the government. It last convened on 26 April 1942. With the new Constitution of 1949, the Bundestag was established as the new West German parliament; because West Berlin was not under the jurisdiction of the Constitution, a legacy of the Cold War, the Bundestag met in Bonn in several different buildings, including a former waterworks facility. In addition, owing to the city's legal status, citizens of West Berlin were unable to vote in elections to the Bundestag, were instead represented by 22 non-voting delegates chosen by the House of Representatives, the city's legislature; the Bundeshaus in Bonn is the former parliament building of Germany. The sessions of the German Bundestag were held there from 1949 until its move to Berlin in 1999. Today it houses the International Congress Centre Bundeshaus Bonn and in the northern areas the branch office of the Bundesrat, which represents the Länder – the federated states).
The southern areas became part of German offices for the United Nations in 2008. The former Reichstag building housed a history exhibition and served as a conference center; the Reichstag building was occasionally used as a venue for sittings of the Bundestag and its committees and the Bundesversammlung, the body which elects the German Federal President. However, the Soviets harshly protested against the use of the Reichstag building by institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany and tried to disturb the sittings by flying supersonic jets close to the building. Since April 19, 1999, the German parliament has again assembled in Berlin in its original Reichstag building, built in 1888 based on the plans of German architect Paul Wallot and underwent a significant renovation under the lead of British architect Lord Norman Foster. Parliamentary committees and subcommittees, public hearings and parliamentary group meetings take place in three auxiliary buildings, which surround the Reichstag building: the Jakob-Kaiser-Haus, Paul-Löbe-Haus and Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus.
In 2005, a small aircraft crashed close to the German Parliament. It was decided to ban private air traffic over Central Berlin. Together with the Bundesrat, the Bundestag is the legislative branch of the German political system. Although most legislation is initiated by the executive branch, the Bundestag considers the legislative function its most important responsibility, concentrating much of its energy on assessing and amending the government's legislative program; the committees play a prominent role in this process. Plenary sessions provide a forum for members to engage in public debate on legislative issues before them, but they tend to be well attended only when significant legislation is being considered; the Bundestag members are the only federal officials directly elected by the public.
Parliament House, Stockholm
The Parliament House, is the seat of the parliament of Sweden, the Riksdag. It is located in the Gamla stan district of central Stockholm; the building complex was designed by Aron Johansson in the Neoclassical style, with a centered Baroque Revival style facade section. Parliament House was constructed between 1897 and 1905. In 1889, a competition had been held to select a design for the new Parliament building, that Johansson won. Upon opening, it replaced the Old Riksdag Building on Riddarholmen; the two buildings of the complex were constructed to house the Riksdag in one, the Sveriges Riksbank in the second, of a semicircular shape. Assembly Hall expansionAfter the bicameral Riksdag was replaced by a unicameral legislature in 1971, the bank relocated, the building housing the bank was rebuilt to house the new Assembly Hall. During the construction, the Parliament moved into temporary premises in the newly erected Kulturhuset south of Sergels Torg in central Stockholm; the Right Livelihood Award has been presented to recipients at a ceremony in Parliament House.
The award was established in 1980 to honour and support those "offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today." There presently 149 Laureates from 62 countries
Bundestag (Berlin U-Bahn)
Bundestag is a Berlin U-Bahn station located on the U 55. The name of this station was changed in April 2006 from Reichstag to Bundestag after deputations from the Bundestag which sits in the Reichstag building. Though construction was completed in 1994, it took over a decade until the subway line U55 went into service in August 2009. In the intervening period, the completed station with its high ceiling and unusual architecture served as a location for cultural events like performances of the opera The Magic Flute and saw use as a film set for the Resident Evil film series, for Æon Flux and for EquilibriumAs of 2013, only the eastern face of the island platform is open where the shuttle service stops in both directions; when the full U5 line completed west of Alexanderplatz the western platform face will serve trains towards Alexanderplatz and the present eastern platform face will serve trains towards Hauptbahnhof. Media related to U-Bahnhof Bundestag at Wikimedia Commons
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, known as the Fall of Berlin, was one of the last major offensives of the European theatre of World War II. Following the Vistula–Oder Offensive of January–February 1945, the Red Army had temporarily halted on a line 60 km east of Berlin. On 9 March, Germany established its defence plan for the city with Operation Clausewitz; the first defensive preparations at the outskirts of Berlin were made on 20 March, under the newly appointed commander of Army Group Vistula, General Gotthard Heinrici. When the Soviet offensive resumed on 16 April, two Soviet fronts attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin. Before the main battle in Berlin commenced, the Red Army encircled the city after successful battles of the Seelow Heights and Halbe. On 20 April 1945, Hitler's birthday, the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, advancing from the east and north, started shelling Berlin's city centre, while Marshal Ivan Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front broke through Army Group Centre and advanced towards the southern suburbs of Berlin.
On 23 April General Helmuth Weidling assumed command of the forces within Berlin. The garrison consisted of several depleted and disorganised Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, along with poorly trained Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. Over the course of the next week, the Red Army took the entire city. Before the battle was over and several of his followers killed themselves; the city's garrison surrendered on 2 May but fighting continued to the north-west and south-west of the city until the end of the war in Europe on 8 May as some German units fought westward so that they could surrender to the Western Allies rather than to the Soviets. Starting on 12 January 1945, the Red Army began the Vistula–Oder Offensive across the Narew River. On the fourth day, the Red Army broke out and started moving west, up to 30 to 40 km per day, taking East Prussia and Poznań, drawing up on a line 60 km east of Berlin along the Oder River; the newly created Army Group Vistula, under the command of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler, attempted a counter-attack, but this had failed by 24 February.
The Red Army drove on to Pomerania, clearing the right bank of the Oder River, thereby reaching into Silesia. In the south the Siege of Budapest raged. Three German divisions' attempts to relieve the encircled Hungarian capital city failed, Budapest fell to the Soviets on 13 February. Adolf Hitler insisted on a counter-attack to recapture the Drau-Danube triangle; the goal was to secure the oil region of Nagykanizsa and regain the Danube River for future operations, but the depleted German forces had been given an impossible task. By 16 March, the German Lake Balaton Offensive had failed, a counter-attack by the Red Army took back in 24 hours everything the Germans had taken ten days to gain. On 30 March, the Soviets entered Austria. Between June and September 1944, the Wehrmacht had lost more than a million men, it lacked the fuel and armaments needed to operate effectively. On 12 April 1945, who had earlier decided to remain in the city against the wishes of his advisers, heard the news that the American President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died.
This raised false hopes in the Führerbunker that there might yet be a falling out among the Allies and that Berlin would be saved at the last moment, as had happened once before when Berlin was threatened. No plans were made by the Western Allies to seize the city by a ground operation; the Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force, General Eisenhower lost interest in the race to Berlin and saw no further need to suffer casualties by attacking a city that would be in the Soviet sphere of influence after the war, envisioning excessive friendly fire if both armies attempted to occupy the city at once. The major Western Allied contribution to the battle was the bombing of Berlin during 1945. During 1945 the United States Army Air Forces launched large daytime raids on Berlin and for 36 nights in succession, scores of RAF Mosquitos bombed the German capital, ending on the night of 20/21 April 1945 just before the Soviets entered the city; the Soviet offensive into central Germany, what became East Germany, had two objectives.
Stalin did not believe the Western Allies would hand over territory occupied by them in the post-war Soviet zone, so he began the offensive on a broad front and moved to meet the Western Allies as far west as possible. But the overriding objective was to capture Berlin; the two goals were complementary because possession of the zone could not be won unless Berlin were taken. Another consideration was that Berlin itself held useful post-war strategic assets, including Adolf Hitler and the German atomic bomb programme. On 6 March, Hitler appointed Lieutenant General Helmuth Reymann commander of the Berlin Defence Area, replacing Lieutenant General Bruno Ritter von Hauenschild. On 20 March, General Gotthard Heinrici was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Vistula replacing Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. Heinrici was one of the best defensive tacticians in the German army, he started to lay defensive plans. Heinrici assessed that the main Soviet thrust would be made over the Oder River and along the main east-west Autobahn.
He decided not to try to defend the banks of the Oder with anything more than a light skirmishing screen. Instead, Heinrici arranged for engineers